Revealing The Secrets To Russian SEO – Yandex SEO Made Simple

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There isn’t a lot of information available about Russian or Yandex SEO written in English. Russian SEO is a very interesting topic as Google is not the number 1 search engine in Russia, that throne belongs to Yandex.

What is even more interesting is that Yandex have recently made huge changes to the algorithm with less focus on links and more focus on user behaviour and authority.

Could this be a sign of things to come in the English variants of Google?

What You Will Learn

  • What Yandex is & why it is important
  • The key differences between Google & Yandex
  • How to do Yandex SEO the right way
  • How to rank your site in Yandex

Introducing Evgeniy Garkaviy

Who better to teach us about Russian SEO than Russian & Ukrainian speaking Evgeniy Garkaviy from Temi.

He previously wrote about landing page optimization best practices on the blog which was very popular.

This time he is teaching us about Russian SEO & ranking in Yandex!

What Is Yandex?

I assume that most of SEOs know or at least have heard that Yandex is the biggest Russian search engine. That is why if you want to start an online business in that country, you should focus on Yandex and not on Google.

I do not mean that you should forget about Google but most people use the Russian search engine for searching.

Let me show you some benefits of Yandex in comparison with Google [in Russia of course]:

  1. More than 57% of Russian Internet users turn to Yandex as their main search engine.
  2. Very similar to Google, it is easy to use.
  3. When you do SEO for Yandex, your site also ranks in another popular search engine – mail.ru.
  4. Ecommerce sites rank very well in Yandex.

Region is Very Important

Last month, I saw this post by Harrison Jones talking about ranking in Yandex.

However in that post Harrison did not mention regions. When doing SEO for Yandex, you should clearly identify your region. In Russia people usually promote their sites for big cities like Moscow or Saint Petersburg.

Since the country is very, very big it is not easy to find a business that covers Moscow and Vladivostok at the same time. The distance between these two cities is more than 9,000 km.

Take a look at the percentage of people in different regions who use Yandex and Google-

google and yandex

As you can see, more than 70% of people in Moscow use Yandex. In some regions it falls to almost 50%. I used Kaliningrad as an example because its people use both search engines evenly.

For international SEO, there is no point in using Yandex. However, you can use it for Russian speaking countries such as Ukraine, Belarus or Kazakhstan.

  • In Ukraine 33% use Yandex
  • In Belarus 45% use Yandex
  • In Kazakhstan 25% use Yandex

country

Why is region so important? In Google, people from the same country see the same search results for a single keyword except local listings, paid results etc.

When using Yandex, people from different cities see the different search results. It means that if you use the keyword “раскрутка сайта” [in English “website promotion”], you will see different results if you search from Moscow and if you search from Saint Petersburg.

Here is how it looks:

Keyword “раскрутка сайта” in Moscow region-

Yandex Moscow

  1. promo.ingate.ru
  2. raskrytka.ru
  3. SeoKlub.ru
  4. kokoc.com
  5. freeavalanche.ru

The same keyword “раскрутка сайта” for the region Saint Petersburg-

Yandex Saint Petersburg

  1. SeoKlub.ru
  2. Raskrutka-saita.org
  3. Promo.Altera-Media.com
  4. W-art.ru
  5. ssve.ru

As you can see the results above are completely different for the same country. That is why it is very important to know your region before doing SEO in Yandex.

When searching in Yandex Russians usually type a keyword with + region. For example “ppc services in Moscow” or “buy shoes in Rostov”.

Links ARE Still Important With Yandex SEO

In the end of 2013 the Yandex team at the Moscow conference announced that links will not be a ranking factor for commercial queries. A new ranking algorithm was launched in 2014, but still Russian SEOs do not have a clear idea about what to do with links.

According to the latest research after removing link influence from ranking factor; 68% of all websites that were analysed dropped in rankings and only 24% showed increase in rankings.

Now this algorithm applied only to Moscow and in some other regions-

Winners:

  • Sites with backlinks from relevant niche
  • Sites with many indexed pages

Losers:

  • Sites with no relevant backlinks
  • Law sites (this niche is very competitive in Moscow and many sites used Black or Grey Hat SEO)
  • Sites that used links from SAPE (one of the biggest link networks in Russia)

Personally, I think that such changes in algorithm ranking lead directly to increases in Yandex PPC spending.

If you are in a very competitive niche then you definitely must use keyword rich anchors. No anchor links have a very low impact on rankings.

Also, if you are promoting a website in a separate region then it is better to get links related to your region [see the winners above].

Key Difference – Yandex Updates

One of the most important differences between Google and Yandex is that with Google, new pages/sites in SERP appear or disappear in real time whereas Yandex has 3 types of updates:

  1. Links update
  2. Content update
  3. Update of behavior factors

Very often your site will drop or increase in rankings following some of those updates. It means that if there were not updates for a few days, then everything remains the same in the search results.

You can track Yandex updates at http://updates.seolib.ru/ or http://seobudget.ru/updates/ .

Sometimes you can see what happened when your site was dropped from the top 10 and in a few days after an update, reappear in the top 10 again.

WARNING: Steal Your Competitors Search Rankings, Traffic & Income

The Right Way To Optimize For Yandex SEO

So let’s take a look at the right way to optimize your site to rank in Yandex.

On Page Optimisation

  • Unique content
  • Interesting text written for people
  • Do not spam with keywords. Too many keywords in the text is not good
  • Regular content updating
  • Social sharing
  • Internal linking

Off Page Optimisation

  • Build links to your site slowly and naturally. In Russia there are very good link networks, so it is not difficult to buy quality links
  • Build links from quality sites (see the on page tab)
  • Use different sites but related to your niche

User Behavior

  • Encourage users to stay at your site as long as possible
  • Users do not leave your site after reading 1 or 2 pages

What You Must Not Do

  1. Too many keywords on a single page. It is more dangerous than in Google
  2. If it is an ecommerce site, then you should have shipping, payment, delivery pages etc
  3. Do not insert invisible text
  4. Do not use content that is not unique
  5. Avoid duplicate pages
  6. Avoid empty pages
  7. Avoid using footer links

As I previously stated Yandex SEO is very similar with SEO for Google. Still there are more very important things that you should know. Site promotion in Yandex is not fast. If you have a business in Moscow, then you should plan for at least 1 to 2 years before seeing real success.

If you are building a site from scratch and want to be successful in Yandex, then you must know this formula-

yandex seo backlink formula

Technical Optimization With Yandex SEO Tools

Yandex has its own Webmaster Tools very similar to what we have seen in Google Webmaster Tools. It is where you can run into problems if you are not fluent in Russian because the service is completely in Russian and there is no way to change the language.

I recommend hiring a person who is familiar with Yandex Webmaster Tools who can set everything up properly. Yandex Webmaster Tools has almost the same tools that Google Webmaster Tools has such as robots, sitemap, etc.

If you are promoting your site for the Russian market and doing everything correctly then it is possible to get good rankings in both major search engines: Google and Yandex.

Let me show you an example. This site http://www.travelfriendz.com/ru/ is multilingual and not very old.

Their Russian site is ranking very high in yandex.ru and in google.ru for the same keyword “сайт знакомств для путешественников” or “travel dating” in English.

Number 9 in Yandex

rankings

And number 3 in Google

google rankings

If you know the region then…

If you know in what region you would like to promote your site, then you should do the following:

  1. Set up the region in Yandex SEO Tools
  2. Submit your site in Yandex Sprav – http://sprav.yandex.ru/, similar to Google Maps
  3. Add your region in a H1 tag
  4. If possible include it in the URL
  5. Your content must mention the region
  6. Add it in your description tag because it could be your snippet

Site Age

Yandex loves old resources which is not a big surprise. However it is more difficult here for a new website to overtake an old site quickly.

So you have to spend time building a trusted resource over time.

Unique Content

In this field Yandex is even better than Google in identifying Russian content that is not unique.

The language is very difficult and each word has many variations. Therefore it is very important to discover content that is not unique. Yandex even has an algorithm similar to Google Panda called АГС that is used to filter out low quality content.

Yandex has its own guidelines for webmasters that is available in English and may be quite helpful in certain situations.

Wrapping It Up

If you are looking for exposure in Russia or Ukraine then you definitely want to make your website Yandex SEO friendly.

Gaining good rankings in Yandex is not as easy as it once was. Until recently, the Yandex SEO algorithm was quite similar to Google’s and was heavily weighted on links and authority of incoming links rather than relevancy.

Yandex recently changed their algorithm in a big way. One of the new changes that upset many webmasters makes it almost impossible for new websites to rank better than established brands.

It seems no matter which search engine you try to optimise for – you are always playing a global game of cat and mouse!

Thanks for reading :)

57 Responses

  1. Thanks Mat, but non-russian web sites’ about 95-97% search engine traffic comes from Google. I think we need to focus on Google SEO. Yandex SEO is just waste of time :)

    • November 25th, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      Well that depends what you are trying to do and it’s worth noting the direction any major search engine is going in.

    • November 26th, 2014 at 8:53 am

      Yandex is very important if you want to expand your business in Russia.

  2. 11.25.2014

    Another great post. But it raises questions as well.
    How many people really know Russian as a language. This means that all topics must be translated. Or are many Russians capable of speaking English?
    Secondly; delivery of the goods. Digital is no problem, but physical products?
    Thirdly: FTC rules in Russia. In order to do things in Russia you need to understand the regulations over there as well, isn’t it?

    To me it seems like a new challenge, but at the same time a lot of hassle as well. Or am I mistaken?

    • November 26th, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Hi Jack, thanks for your feedback.

      1. Yes if you are not fluent in English and would like to promote your site for Russian region then you must hire someone who is fluent :) Or at least translate.
      2. Not sure it is a problem today. I live in Ukraine and it is not a problem for me.
      3. Almost the same to US, UK rules.

  3. 11.25.2014

    Interesting article, time for me to build out an affiliate site in a Russian niche

    • November 26th, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      I wish I speaked Russo :(

      • November 26th, 2014 at 6:37 pm

        Offering paid lessons :) Lol. Since you published this post Matt, I will give you good discount )

      • November 26th, 2014 at 6:54 pm

        I know russian Matthew, if you need a companion able to speak russian, let me know ;)

    • November 26th, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      Right time to try something new :)

  4. 11.25.2014

    I’m a bit disappointed, I taught that this post will be about sape and other Russian networks (especially other RU networks), but anyway, great read.

    • November 26th, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      Would you like a post like that? I can certainly put it together!

      • November 26th, 2014 at 3:39 pm

        Yes, I would like that. But I’m especially interested in other RU networks. I came across more then 10 different networks, which are as large as sape. Do you have experience with some other network, and would you mind to share? I think a lot of people would be interested in some ranking methods which include sape and sape alike links.

        Anyway, I’m reading your blog regularly for quite sometime, but these are my first comments, so I wanted to say that you are doing really nice job, I enjoy reading most of your posts.

        Regards!

    • November 26th, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      First of all thanks for your comment.

      Yes I have that in plans. But not sure that you should focus on SAPE a lot now. Miralinks is much better and expensive :)

  5. 11.25.2014

    Hi Matt.
    I ‘ve tested the Yandex, but for me the results were very weak.

    I bet everything on Google because it is the search engine that my target audience uses.

    Great article.

    Thanks

    • November 26th, 2014 at 3:06 pm

      Do you take region into consideration?

      • November 27th, 2014 at 11:11 am

        Yes, but it was just a test! Because my target audience is Brazil :)

    • November 26th, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      Do you have Russian site?

  6. 11.25.2014

    Hey Matt,

    I was surprised (in a good way) to see your article about Russian SEO. My first language is Russian, so your post was like a piece of ‘sweet home’ in the English-speaking SEO/marketing Internet :)

    As regards Google vs Yandex, recently I’ve had a very close look at the website that was ranking well in Google in a quite competitive niche. It was on the first page of Russian Google search for several major key phrases and number of long-tail phrases. The site is Google-optimized.

    At the same time this site barely got any traffic from Yandex.

    So, without going into a deep analysis, I can say that optimization in Google and Yandex is not the same. At least, it is so for that website.

    • November 26th, 2014 at 3:06 pm

      Wow! Have you ever had a crack at doing something in Yandex?

      • November 26th, 2014 at 8:48 pm

        Not much.
        But I’ve seen that sites that Google loves are not the Yandex’ favourite ones in many cases. And vice versa.

        For example, if one wants to buy an aged domain to put some links on it, the domain may give a good link juice in Google eyes, but at the same time it may be close to useless from Yandex’ perspective.

    • November 26th, 2014 at 6:39 pm

      Thanks Michael,
      Yes, it is not always that great site in Google will be such great in Yandex. But they are very similar in terms of ranking factors.

  7. 11.25.2014

    Thank you very much for this guide! Just this week I will have to optimize the SEO of a Russian website, I think I will be very helpful! ;)

  8. Dmitry
    11.25.2014

    Do not afraid russian Yandex, they have very simple (primitive) algorithm compare to Google.

    Main tactics of russian (Yandex SEO) it’s spam – black hat as you call it.

    If you ranking good in Google and don’t have stupid mistakes in onpage SEO, you will rank good in Yandex too but – 3-6 month later.

    Payed links from wibsites that in Yandex Catalog do all job :)
    Sorry for my english, i’m from Ukraine.

    • November 26th, 2014 at 6:41 pm

      Completely agree with you Дмитрий :) Слава Україні!

      Not sure that I agree with black hat quote!

  9. 11.25.2014

    Nice Article about Yandex SEO almost same like Google. Well I have a question here, Now a days many people creating website in different languages by copying English websites. What they did is find a good SEO optimized website which having content in English and they just convert the English language into rusian, spanish or french….According to their experiences they said that converted website is ranked automatically without any link. Only just copy content. So my question is that is it good to do for earnings from Google Adsence ?

    • November 26th, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      Not sure. It will not be such strong in search engine if you are not working on promotion

  10. 11.26.2014

    Nice post Matt, thought I would ask you this question here as I wanted an answer from you and thought you would be hanging round here answering comments.
    GSA or Senuke? Budget no option, I already have both but which one is better in your opinion?

    Thanks
    Tom.

  11. Justin
    11.26.2014

    Does that means if Google follow the yandex path SEO will be dead?

    • November 26th, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      Not but its interesting to see an algorithm moving away from backlinks

    • November 26th, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      Yandex is only testing this mode and still majority of websmters in Russia do not know much about SEO without links and me too :)

  12. 11.26.2014

    Hi Matt,
    I loved it! Have you tried ranking a site on Yandex? If you need content written in Russian which service is best? How to find duplicate Russian content?

    • November 26th, 2014 at 6:46 pm

      If you read the article carefuly, you will see one example of the site that is good in Yandex and in Google at the same time. I do not know about Matt but I was working with Russian sites.

      2. There are few very good content writing sites like advego.ru for example.

      3. You can find duplicate content is the same way as with English language.

    • November 26th, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      You can use http://www.content-watch.ru/text/ – for duplicate content checker

      as for text you can use textbroker.ru

  13. 11.26.2014

    Thanks a lot Matthew for this opportunity and for accepting my post. I know that there are not many people who are interesting in Yandex search engine but, as I said in the beginning of the post, There isn’t a lot of information available about Russian SEO written in English.

  14. 11.26.2014

    Well, from my experience I found that Yandex also gives traffic and this traffic is target once who are really interested.
    Matt what do you think about Sape? It is netwrok from where people buy links from old websites and Russian once. Mostly Russian seo is based on that, according to my information. It is safe when is done carefully.

    I would like also to know from you what we can use for getting links in Russian websites with high pr and good quality.

    Thanks for this kind of very useful information

    • November 26th, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      SAPE works very well indeed!

    • November 26th, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      I would recommend you using Miralinks in this way. But there are still many webmasters who use SAPE. After Penguin update many people stopped using it.

  15. 11.26.2014

    Hey Matt and Evgeniy thanks for sharing these insights.

    I’m currently only publishing english stuff, but it’s interesting to learn what else goes on. I think this also has given me some ideas I could adopt to my strategy right now.

    In my opinion it’s important not only to optimize for SEO and publish quality content, but also not to put all my eggs in one basket.

    Currently I shifted away from the “SEO only” strategy and diversified more – and for me it worked. I got several thousand visitors to my brand new blog without Google and Yahoo and I am sure this would work for russian sites also :-)

    Anyway, thanks again and keep those great posts coming!

    • November 26th, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      Thanks Philip :) Good luck with your multilingual project!

  16. Seb Atkinson
    11.26.2014

    Great post Evgeniy! One thing you could add to the post (I didn’t spot it so sorry if its actually in there) is that Yandex doesn’t like non Russian content. So if your site is international, it is best to put all non-Russian language content in a subdomain, not a subfolder – e.g. en.domain.ru, nl.domain.ru – this ensures Yandex treats it as a separate site so theres no issues.

    The TLD is also an important factor, .ru, .rf and .su (soviet union – it still exists online!) are all suitable for Russia – again using one of these is best to avoid any issues.

    • November 26th, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      Well it is true. Thay have English version of search engine but I’m not sure that there are websmasters who use Yandex for English site promotion.

  17. 12.3.2014

    A great article, Yandex and Baidu are two search engines with an incredible potential for those from the West only use Google as the main source of traffic

  18. 2.5.2015

    so informatives, i’ve just to know this. Yandex is most popular in rusia than google. good job yandex

  19. brmjeyat
    3.31.2015

    Thanks for tutorial it’s very informative , but I feel like it mess something e.c Blackhat methods to rank on Yandex . in pas I was getting huge amount of Spam comments with Russian anchors . but now most spams comes in Chines anchors thats give me sign Spam not working that same way in Yandex as with Baidu

    • March 31st, 2015 at 8:12 am

      I’ve not really paid attention to that, but this blog gets around 40,000 spam comments per day with a mix of languages

      • Ed
        July 8th, 2016 at 2:40 pm

        Can’t you just disable them?

  20. 5.5.2015

    Thanks very nice article, Yandex browser is one my favorites and also use yandex metrica in conjunction GA (Google Analytics) for more enhanced digital marketing
    BRs

  21. acil kredi
    11.19.2016

    İts same way for yandex.com.tr ranking?

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